Week Four

Poems for the fourth Sunday of Advent
The City Council Welcomes the Christ Child
God of the Homeless
Mary Describes How it Feels



Year A: Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 7-19; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

The City Council Welcomes the Christ Child


Our city is near nature. It’s near
perfect, our sidewalks pristine. We invite you
to take a seat and admire their beauty
if it’s between midnight and 6 a.m.
But please don’t linger and for heaven sake
don’t lie down. If you’re weary you can sit
at Starbucks for the price of a latte
as long as you don’t take too long to drink it.
Are you just passing through? There’s plenty of room
at the Lusso, the Dav, the new Worthy Tower.
Otherwise, keep passing. These restrooms
are for customers. This city is nothing
without its core. You must have somewhere to rest
besides the STA Plaza. Surely you see
that the planter outside the Olive Garden
is no place to lay your newborn. Why should we let
you loiter? What good can you possibly do?

Year B: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Psalm 89:1-4; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

God of the Homeless


God of the cedar house and the cedar tree.
God of the tent. God of the low-rent apartment,

recipient of a shut-off notice:
thirty days and you’ll lose power.

God of the powerless. God of the living
in a rusted-out Ford. God of those who carry

their belongings in plastic garbage sacks.
God of garbage. God who seeks the lowest

of the low, and finds favor. God who inhabits
the least likely of places. God of those with nothing

to do but wait for blessing to find them.



Year C: Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-55

Mary Describes How it Feels


When the angel spoke, the axis pulled
through earth’s center like a needle through
cloth. Mountains split and plunged
to the depths of the sea, whose tides had turned backward,
whose moon no longer held sway. At the sound
of the angel’s voice, the tree outside my window
gave back its sunlight. It began to shrink its branches,
leaves furling in on themselves, bark returning
to a cellular memory, down to the code
of a single seed. The whole world was a walnut,
and it latched within me. When I sleep,
I dream of armies marching straight
into oceans, of one hundred lambs
penned for slaughter and the axman
throwing open the gate. I dream of plagues
undone. But mostly
I don’t sleep, spun by the hurricane
churning inside me, buildings rising
and tumbling until one
stone remains. Rumor of war
in the womb’s dark snare, kernel of coiled history
ready to spring, to hurl every last molecule
from its place—my
untamed, my temblor, my sweet
internal fire unleashing and no one,
no one prepared for its terrible,
beautiful havoc.


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